Questions of Cash: Corgi's refund takes heat out of HomePlan upset
Friday 01 February 2013
Q. In autumn 2011, Corgi offered us its HomePlan central heating cover, which we paid monthly from November 2011. In spring 2012, it offered to extend the cover to include home electrics, which I agreed to. The policy included an annual central heating service, to be carried out before November each year. I phoned on 29 September 2012 to remind it of this and to request the annual service – we had problems restarting the central heating after it had been switched off for the summer.
I was promised an engineer would contact me, but I heard nothing. I emailed twice and phoned again, but still nothing happened. I then cancelled the direct debit, and a local engineer serviced our system. I requested a refund of the £221.82 paid in premiums to Corgi. Again my correspondence was ignored. I paid £204 to the local engineer for a service that I had paid Corgi for, but which was not provided. PS, Leeds.
A. Corgi HomePlan has refunded the cost of your premiums plus the cost of the service provided by the engineer. You have received a payment of £425.82, which is significantly more than you requested. James Duffie, Corgi HomePlan's customer service director, apologises for the problems. He says: "We pride ourselves on our high level of customer service, but in this case there have clearly been failings both on the part of our appointed engineer and my administration team. I am working closely with my management team to improve communications between the engineers, ourselves and our customers to prevent this situation occurring again."
Q. Three years ago, we bought a fridge-freezer from John Lewis. It has since developed a fault that will cost more to repair than the purchase price of £350. We complained to John Lewis, but the best it will offer is a half-price replacement. It is reasonable to expect a fridge freezer should have a life of well over 10 years – my mother-in-law's freezer has lasted 54 years. Even Liebherr, the manufacturer, was shocked to learn that one of its products had given problems at "such a young age". Are we being unreasonable to demand a free replacement? AW, Sussex.
A. We raised this with John Lewis but it did not improve the offer it had already made. A spokeswoman says: "We have offered the customer a considerable amount towards a replacement fridge-freezer, and have found him a suitable alternative made by the same manufacturer." She said that the retailer was waiting to hear from you as to whether you found the offer acceptable . We offered to take the matter further by contacting Liebherr to discuss the problem, but you did not respond.
Q. Our 21-year-old son signed up with an employment agency, which found him his first job as a postgraduate. He was to be paid £80 a day plus travel costs. He was not told whether the £80 would be gross or net. He was later instructed to sign up with an umbrella company, which meant he had to pay both the employee's and the employer's national insurance contributions, plus a £27.50 weekly administration fee to the umbrella company.
When he finished the work, he requested the promised travel expenses of £50 a week. He was then told these were only a tax deduction as and when he began paying tax. He is unlikely to pay any tax this year. Umbrella companies can flout the rules designed to protect temporary staff by opting for the Swedish Derogation. The umbrella company also included his holiday pay within the £80 a day as "rolled-up pay", which we thought was unlawful. LK, Leicestershire.
A. Problems with employment agencies and umbrella companies can be taken to both HMRC and Acas, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. An Acas spokesman explains: "The Swedish Derogation applies when a temporary work agency can offer an agency worker a permanent contract of employment and pay the agency worker between assignments. If no such contract is agreed, agency workers are classed as 'workers' rather than employees, and therefore have a different set of rights.
The Swedish Derogation allows for a temporary work agency to offer an agency worker a permanent contract of employment. The agency worker will forgo their right to the same pay as if they had been recruited by the employer directly. In exchange, they establish their employment status as an 'employee' and gain the rights this entails." He adds: "Rolled-up holiday pay is when employers or employment agencies state that the hourly rate of pay includes an element of holiday pay.
This means that employees and agency workers are paid holiday pay within their normal wages throughout the year. An hourly rate of £7.20 might include a sum to cover annual leave. It is advisable that employees are paid holiday pay at the time the employees take their annual leave. There are very specific rules for using rolled up holiday pay." Acas warns that several risks about working for an employment agency should be considered.
The temporary contract is between the worker and the agency. Agency workers generally hold "worker status", limiting their employment rights – they are not entitled to claim redundancy pay or unfair dismissal. The employment agency can terminate the contract at any point, so there is less employment security.
Workers should check if the agreement is for a Swedish Derogation employment, or if employment is as a traditional agency worker. But regardless of the kind of contract, all workers and employees are protected by the national minimum wage provisions and working time legislation. As far as we can tell, what happened to your son does not breach the law. But it is a warning to others in a similar situation.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
Pension mortgages: 'The advice I was given was wrong and now I face losing my home'
Best savings rates are not all they might seem
Questions of Cash: I checked in with Air France in time and still missed the plane
Minister's pension promise to firefighters challenged
Gold-plated pensions – the key to retirement freedom?
- 1 PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
- 2 Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
- 3 The Grace Dent Christmas Questionnaire
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader
iJobs Money & Business
Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...
Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...
£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...
Day In a Page
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens